Letters to the Editor

Thanks for memories made at Grandma Daisy’s

A heartfelt thank you (goes out) to everyone who came to say goodbye to me at Grandma Daisy’s on April 23. I appreciate all of your well wishes.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my years with Grandma Daisy’s and am so thankful for all of the fond memories everyone has helped to create.

I especially appreciate Beth Walker and her family for hosting such a lovely, thoughtful farewell party for me. It was a delight to see all of you.

Lorene Johnson

Flag placement process changes ensure honor for all veterans

As commander of the American Legion, Post 31, Boulder City, I feel compelled to respond to a letter to the editor in the May 28 edition of this newspaper. First, I wish to thank the letter writer for the kind words regarding the program Post 31 conducted at the Boulder City Cemetery on Memorial Day. Much effort was put into the program by all involved.

The writer also commented somewhat critically on the change in the process of identifying the graves of veterans and the placement of flags and crosses. As the post commander, I will take full responsibility for the change in that process.

The writer was quite correct in stating that previously the volunteers were provided section maps of the cemetery with the veterans’ graves identified. Trying to locate a handful of specific graves among the hundreds of graves in a section can be overwhelming for many individuals.

This was evident after the 2014 flag and cross placement when there were literally dozens of veterans’ graves overlooked, which was unacceptable to me.

With the process changes done for 2015, the result has been only three* families advising that their loved one’s grave had been overlooked, a vast improvement over last year’s traditional process. It would appear the writer had a predetermined conclusion inasmuch as he did not wait to see the final results of the new process.

The change in the process was quite simple. The volunteers were assigned sections as in previous years but this year they only needed to walk each row and, at a minimum, place a flag at those graves clearly marked as military veterans.

Using a list that identified those graves registered with the city as being that of a veteran, a second sweep was conducted. This was the more challenging portion of the flag placement endeavor, for many of the graves were difficult to locate. The second sweep served to capture those veterans’ graves that did not reflect any military service on their grave marker.

Regarding the writer’s concern that crosses weren’t placed on all veterans’ graves, that was my call. The writer opined that the crosses symbolized “deep respect” and reverence for the veteran. That is a very commendable opinion but one not shared by the rest of the world. The cross is universally recognized as the symbol of Christianity. Statistically speaking, not all of the veterans buried in the cemetery are Christians.

When I served on active duty, about one in 10 of my colleagues were not Christians. Most of us are aware that the U.S. Constitution provides for religious freedom. As a member of the American Legion, I uphold the Constitution and respect the religion of other veterans, even those who are deceased. It would not be ethically, morally and perhaps not legally correct to place Christian crosses on the graves of non-Christians. As a Christian, I view the placement of Christian crosses on the graves of non-Christians as very problematic.

It should be noted, the deceased veterans’ families are provided the opportunity to place a religious emblem on their loved one’s grave marker while making final arrangements. Many families decided to place the Christian cross on their loved one’s grave marker. For these veterans’ graves, we followed the family’s desire and recognized the grave with the placement of the Christian cross and the American flag. Some families decided against having the Christian cross on their loved one’s grave marker. Out of respect for those families, we did not place a Christian cross on those graves, only an American flag.

At 6:30 a.m. the morning after the flag placement, I walked the entire cemetery to “tidy up” any loose ends. I did not see one grave that had only a cross without the American flag, as the writer claimed to have seen. Perhaps the day before, a volunteer(s) ran out of flags, placed a cross down, left to get a resupply of flags, later returned and resumed flag placement. That would explain there being a period of time when only a cross was displayed on a grave.

Another change, the flag placement for this year was moved from Sunday, as traditionally done for many years, to Saturday. I made this change primarily to allow family traveling from out of town to have an extra day to visit their loved one’s grave.

In conversations prior to this past Memorial Day, I floated the idea of allowing families to personally place the American flags on their loved ones’ graves, starting 30 minutes prior to the volunteers starting their flag placement. If this is adopted for next year, Post 31 will provide the flags, and crosses if requested, to those families. I have received positive responses to this idea and anticipate it will become part of next year’s Memorial Day activities.

Additionally, with the new flag placement process having a far greater efficiency rate than the old process, it will become the new tradition.

Gregory Hall

Commander, Post 31, American Legion, Boulder City

* Upon questioning, one of the three families acknowledged their deceased veteran did not have a government/military-issued grave marker, nor did the family include his military service on the privately purchased grave marker or register his grave with the city as being a veteran’s grave.

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